HC Deb 29 March 1960 vol 620 cc1116-7
16. Mr. Snow

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he is aware that 20 acres of some of the most beautiful area on Cannock Chase are now to be subjected to quarrying under the terms of an authority granted in 1951; and, in view of the fact that this was designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty in September 1957, whether he will immediately have this permission withdrawn in view of the public concern at this spoliation of one of the most beautiful areas in Great Britain.

Sir K. Joseph

Planning permission for gravel working was given in 1951 by the Lichfield Rural District Council. It knew that this area was likely to be designated as of outstanding natural beauty, and it imposed suitable conditions. My right hon. Friend knows of no sufficient reason to seek to have the permission withdrawn.

Mr. Snow

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that reply will cause some dismay to many people in the Midlands, for whom there are fewer and fewer areas where they can enjoy the beauty of the countryside? Is he also aware that the option to give this quarrying right was originally given before the establishment of the present county planning authority? Is he further aware that the same planning authority has recently expressed the view in a parallel case that existing resources for quarrying material are adequate? Will he please have another look at this matter, which is rather more serious than his reply would seem to convey?

Sir K. Joseph

The original planning permission was for a very much larger area, and the local planning authority has now restricted gravel working to 20 acres. It is the authority's view that gravel is urgently needed. These are not wet workings and the land will be restored to its present state in due course, though at a lower level.

Captain Pilkington

Does my hon. Friend realise that this is the third Question today about various beautiful parts being spoiled? I wonder whether my hon. Friend's Ministry could give a better lead in this matter.

Mr. M. Stewart

Will the hon. Gentleman or his right hon. Friend visit the area referred to? There is considerable concern about this, and it should be looked at again.

Sir K. Joseph

There must be some sort of reconciliation between national industrial interests in a matter like gravel, which has to be taken where it is found, and the interests of local inhabitants. My right hon. Friend can intervene only when he believes that these issues are not being given proper consideration by the local planning authority.

Mr. Snow

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, in the hope that I can persuade the Minister to look at this matter rather more thoroughly, and since I believe that some of his information is incorrect, I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.

Mr. Speaker

I repeat my request that hon. Members adhere to the usual formula.